Take a very close look at this picture.
What do you see? Does anything stand out to you?
Most people who look at this picture see a black spot. Is that what you saw?
Did you notice that it’s a perfectly useful piece of paper?
Our eyes are drawn to the black spot and that is usually the first thing that we notice. In everyday life our eyes are often drawn to the “black spots,” the negative things going on around us. We have this tendency to overlook all the positive things and just focus on the few small things that bring us discomfort.
In Philippians 4:8 Paul encourages us to focus on the good things in life. Instead we often focus on the negative.
Think about the conversations you have had this week. Have they been positive and focused on the good things? Or have they been full of complaints and negativity?
Focus on the White Space
The reality is that there is a lot more good clean white space on that piece of paper than there is black ink. I would venture to say that in your life there is much more good and positive going on than negative, but are you aware of it? What are you focusing on?
Some of the happiest people who I have met were the people who I came into contact with on a recent missions trip to Ethiopia. They were kind and loving even though they lived in leaky metal shacks on the edge of a garbage dump.
Whenever I am getting ready to start to complain about my current situation I reflect back to these wonderful people. In spite of their horrible living conditions they were able to focus on the piece of paper, the good and uplifting things in their lives. Why is that I tend to focus on the black dot so much?
In Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous adventure novel, Treasure Island, Billy Bones was given the unfortunate gift of the Black Spot. When a pirate was given this small icon it meant that their usefulness as a pirate was over and it would often be the first sign of their eventual death. In our life we often look at these black spots the same way. We let the inconveniences of life get us down, cause us to lose our hope, and we can even fall into despair.
Count Your Blessings
A great way to practice focusing on the positive is to take a piece of paper and draw a black spot right in the center. Then use all the rest of the white paper to list things that you have to be grateful for. Once you have exhausted all of your ideas draw a flower, cross, heart or anything you want, over top of that black spot.
The black spots in our life can often be used as a springboard for good. They can be changed into something positive! Having marriage trouble? Use that as an opportunity to grow into a more loving person and re-learn the art of wooing your spouse. Having trouble at work? Learn how to work with difficult people or maybe just learn how to let go and move to the next opportunity.
Here is a quick list of things to get your gratitude radar tuned in, but I urge you to dial into the finer details of these things. Name people by name, list specific details.
3. Clean water
9. Ability to see, feel, breath, taste, etc.
We all have the tendency to get sucked into the downward spiral of negativity, but when that happens try to spin it around to the positive. A good way to test this out is with the weather. People love to complain about the weather, at least where I live. The next time you hear someone complain about the weather try to offer a positive benefit to the weather. If someone is complaining about flooding, maybe you could mention that you’ve always wanted an indoor pool!
24 Hour Test
All this stuff seems nice and all, but it won’t do you any good unless you actually try it out. My challenge to you is to take the next 24 hours and don’t complain about anything! Stay totally positive. And I don’t mean saying “I’m positive that I’m pissed about everything in my life!” Stay focused on the good. If something bad happens, just smile and try to come up with something good about it. If you can’t come up with something good, then just list a few things that you are thankful for.
Just for 24 hours! Ready…Go!